July 2016

Anglicans Provide Pastoral Guidelines for Assisted Dying
Euthanasia Palliative Hospice

Assisted dying is a huge decision that should not be taken lightly.

It doesn’t matter where you stand on assisted dying when the reality is that the government has removed restrictions against physician-assisted dying in certain cases. It may not be for you personally, but what are you going to do when a loved one decides it’s the only option? Doctors are not the only ones who will wrestle with their consciences under the changing climate surrounding assisted dying. Pastoral care during this time is essential, which is why the Anglican Church of Canada released a report urging its leaders to recognize assisted dying as a reality and to provide palliative and pastoral care for patients and families.

Understanding the Framework

The Anglican Church formed a task force to study the issue. Canon Eric Beresford chaired the committee. He says, “We’re no longer in a debate about whether or not society is going to legalise physician-assisted dying – that’s happening, that train is out of the station.” The question now is how Anglicans can address the needs of those who will avail themselves of physician-assisted dying. Anglicans, like many churches around the world, believe that life is sacred. The report itself doesn’t actually answer the question of “whether Anglicans should be for or against assisted dying.” What it does do is outline theological questions and concerns while providing resources and prayers for those who are facing the end of their lives.

Quoting from “In Sure and Certain Hope: Resources to Assist Pastoral and Theological Approaches to Physician Assisted Dying,”

“Ultimately, it is not the pastoral care givers belief, nor the traditions or dogma of any faith tradition, nor the hopes and desires of family and friends which will determine the choice of assisted-dying. The final choice remains with the parishioner, informed by their own conscientious appropriation of their faith tradition. Family and friends provide the primary community within which the conversations that shape decisions happen. The pastoral care giver’s role becomes that of spiritual guide or facilitator. It is the pastoral care-giver who reminds and draws everyone’s attention back to the reality that God is present and amongst them sustaining this difficult journey of discernment and choice within God’s embrace of love and grace.”

Support and Care for Individuals

One term that is used in the report is “covenant of presence,” which is a commitment by pastors and loved ones to be there for those who are considering assisted dying. There’s no debate that the issue of physician-assisted dying is sensitive and complex, but being present to help someone at the end of his or her life is not providing support to the actual issue. It’s about individual care. Pastors cannot simply abandon members of their congregations. Families cannot step aside when a loved one has decided to take action. Being present is a way of upholding the dignity and autonomy of a life.

According to Dying With Dignity, a national organization that is an advocate for compassionate end of life choices, about 80 percent of Canadians support the right for advance consent to assisted dying, including giving individuals with dementia options for physician-assisted dying. Dying With Dignity has a website devoted to resources and support for those who are considering physician-assisted dying. Learn your rights and get a planning kit to help you talk to your loved ones and doctor.

The debate continues as leaders in government try to provide guidance over regulations for physician-assisted dying. People who choose assisted dying under the current guidelines can’t wait for the debate to end. Providing support and care for a loved one does not mean that you agree with his or her decision. It just means that you love and care for your family member and want to be there as he or she makes difficult decisions. Everyone can learn from the Anglican approach to assisted dying.


Advocates for Marriage Equality in the Anglican Church
Advocates for Marriage Equality in the Anglican Church

Advocates for Marriage Equality in the Anglican Church

In 1976, the Episcopal Church (the branch of the Anglican church in the United States) took steps toward marriage equality when it recognized that “homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church.” In 2015, the General Convention made changes to church canon and liturgy for marriage equality. Months later, at the Anglican Communion’s Primates’ Meeting, the primates, who are the head bishops of the church, voted to suspend the right of the Episcopal Church to be represented at international meetings. This summer, the Canadian Anglican Church is expected to vote on same-sex marriage equality for its membership. The debate has been going on for months, and it’s not looking positive, but there are people who are pushing forward.

Same-Sex Marriages and the Anglican Church

The General Synod, which is the body responsible for church canon, has been trying to find agreement over same-sex marriages in the church since 2004 when they deferred the vote over blessing the union or not. This would have given each church the authority to bless unions. One of the bishops had already given permission for some of the priests in his district to bless same-sex unions as early as 2003. Currently, there are many parishes that are authorized to bless all marriages, but the church itself has not approved the change to the marriage canon.

This July, the General Synod is voting on a change to the canon at its triennial meeting. According to the final report presented to the Commission on the Marriage Canon,

“In 2013 the General Synod passed a resolution (C003, which is included as an appendix to this report) directing the drafting of a motion ‘to change Canon XXI on marriage to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in the same way as opposite-sex couples, and that this motion should include a conscience clause so that no member of the clergy, bishop, congregation or diocese should be constrained to participate in or authorize such marriages against the dictates of their conscience.’ Such a motion will be considered by the General Synod in 2016.”

After a special meeting early in February, the House of Bishops announced that the resolution would probably not pass because it would not get the support it needed to pass. It takes a two-thirds majority to pass, and according to an article in the Anglican Journal, one-third of the bishops are in favor of the change. Another third of the bishops are opposed. The remaining third are those bishops who are still wrestling with the issue. There is another meeting in April to provide more thought and alternatives to the resolution before the final vote in July.

Social Media Comes to the Rescue

Just a few days following the statement from the Bishops, advocates of the resolution came together and formed a Facebook group, Advocates for Changing the Marriage Canon. It started out with 25 members in March, and it has grown to almost 1400. Both clergy and laypeople are in the group. Administrators must approve the request to join, or you must be invited by another member. The rules are clear that the group is not there to debate the issue. It is strictly for those who are in support of the resolution. Members have reached out to the leaders in the church, expressing their views about why this resolution is so important to the church and to their faith. The group is actively reaching out to the House of Bishops, but it also is serving a purpose of unity among Anglicans who feel marginalized because their marriages are not recognized by church canon. We’ll be watching this issue to see how it turns out when the Bishops vote in July.

Why Are Churches Losing Attendance?
Why are churches are losing attendance?

Why are churches are losing attendance?

Pick up any Christian magazine or read one online, and you’ll find many theories about why churches are losing attendance. Many people believe that the church is no longer relevant. Some think that adults are choosing to ignore God. There are others who see the church as too hierarchal. In Canada, about 25 percent of adults identify as having no religious affiliation. Many studies have been done about the actual number of people who stop attending church, but very few look at the reasons why. The Church of Scotland, which is Scotland’s national church, commissioned a study about the lack of attendance. The findings were surprising.

One of the key beliefs in failing congregations is that the members lose faith in God and this is why they stop attending. Another issue that has been thought to ravage church membership is disagreements. Women still do not find support in leadership in many churches. The LGBTQ community is also disenchanted with the church, which is another reason that people stop attending. However, Dr. Steve Aisthorpe, the researcher who carried out the study for the Church of Scotland, found something interesting.

Are People Leaving Church or God?

Dr. Aisthorpe discovered that about 66 percent, or two-thirds, of those who left the church now practice and worship in different ways. Many still gather with like-minded individuals to discuss theological issues and pray together. They choose different venues, such as homes or parks, or even do activities together where they can share their faith and address questions they have about their convictions. Aisthorpe also found that this phenomenon was not different in rural and urban churches.

This suggests that it is the organization of the church that keeps people away. More people are turning away from large congregations for a more personalized worship ritual. Arguments and division may turn some people away from church, but this doesn’t indicate that they stop believing in God. A spokesman for the National Secular Society states that “Churches are out of step, and the people in the pews are voting with their feet.”

The Health of the Church and Religious Community

Although Dr. Aisthorpe carried out the majority of his research in Scotland, he did not only look at his own country to get information. He looked at related research from the Western world. He found changes in the attendance of Sunday morning worship, but he doesn’t believe that should be the only measure of the health of the Christian community and faith. His research suggests that churches are in a transitional period, rather than a decline.

What happens now with the church, in whatever denomination, is up to the individual community. Pastors, priests, and religious leaders need to find what works for their own congregation. The Christian community is not the only religion that is having a hard time filling their seats. Many Jewish synagogues are finding it difficult to maintain membership rolls. In Japan, religious organizations are facing the crisis of having to close Buddhist monasteries because the smaller communities cannot afford to support the monks. The rural areas do not have the number of people they once had, and those areas with more of a population are finding that nationals are not using the services of the temples.

Another key element that Dr. Aisthorpe’s research demonstrates is that the church leaders have to stop assuming and stereotyping those who do not attend church. The reasons that keep people away may have nothing to do with their actual faith in God. It’s easy to point to other problems when the congregation fails. Instead of pointing fingers, churches need to become more relevant and change their delivery system. This is how the world works. Most faiths are buried deep in rituals and traditions that are difficult to change, but as culture changes, so must religion.

Understanding the Importance of Lent
Understanding Lent

Understanding Lent

The Islamic faith has a month of fasting known as Ramadan. Jews fast during Yom Kippur, a time of atonement. Many Christians fast during the Lenten Season. If you’re unfamiliar with Lent, take a moment to learn more about this time to understand your friends who are partaking. Even if you don’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, you can respect those who do.

What Is Lent?

The 40 days before Easter are considered a time of preparation of Christ’s resurrection and known as Lent. The dates are calculated a little differently, but it’s about six weeks prior to Easter. Some traditions call for 40 fasting days, choosing not to count Sundays as a day of fast. Many believers pray more during this time, which culminates in the Holy Week activities. In ancient times, Lenten fasting traditions could be severe. Many people who observed Lent during medieval times gave up all animal products or only ate fish.
Today, those who observe Lent often give up a vice, like watching television, to allow them to spend more time in prayer and study. Many people add a spiritual discipline during Lent. Some people still fast, giving up meat on Friday and Saturday during Lent. Lent is often considered a time of sparsity, in which people may eat enough to sustain strength but not to conquer hunger. It is a time of grief for the Church. Some rites omit the word “alleluia” from their liturgy during the season, because it is associated with joy.

Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday

The day before Lent begins is known as Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday or Fat Tuesday. You’ve probably heard of some of the carnival celebrations on the day. No matter what it’s called, this Tuesday is seen as one last opportunity to go overboard with food and drink before Lent begins.

The day after Shrove Tuesday is known as Ash Wednesday. Believers have ash placed on their forehead, either in the form of a cross or by sprinkling the ashes over the head. During Biblical times, ashes signified grief and sorrow for sins. The ashes do not have to be worn all day, but some people do wear them as a sign of religious freedom.

Holy Week

Those who celebrate the resurrection of Christ consider the Passiontide one of the most important times in the Christian church. The fifth Sunday of Lent begins this season. The next Sunday is Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week. Palm Sunday is when Jesus is said to triumphantly enter Jerusalem. The following Wednesday is often called Spy Wednesday, and it is the day when Judas Iscariot decided to betray Jesus. The next day is Maundy Thursday, the night of the Last Supper of Christ and the disciples.

On Good Friday, Christ’s crucifixion and burial are remembered. It is a statutory federal holiday in Canada, but in Quebec, employers can choose to give their staff either Friday or Easter Monday off. In the United States, it is no longer honored at the federal level, but some states do consider it a holiday. In some countries, certain activities such as dancing are considered profane on Good Friday, because the day is holy.

Respect the Tradition

If a co-worker mentions that he or she is fasting for Lent and can’t go to lunch, respect the decision. You may ask if he or she could go somewhere else to get fish or a vegetarian entrée, but don’t push. If you don’t celebrate Easter yourself, consider Good Friday a bonus day to spend time with your family. For some, it is a day of great religious significance, and they want the time to honor it.


To Pray or Not to Pray?

ThinkstockPhotos-77746967The Canadian Supreme Court’s unanimous mid-April ruling banning prayers before city council meetings in Saguenay, Quebec, has stirred up quite a debate across the country. Many municipalities believe the decision is now of the law of land and are following suit. Others are suspending the practice and taking time to debate the matter, and some are ignoring the ruling all together. There are a number of different alternatives being considered.

The Lord’s Prayer

Over the years, many municipal meetings have begun with the recitation of The Lord’s Prayer. This tradition likely evolved out of Canada’s Anglican and Roman Catholic heritage. However, today the country is much more spiritually diverse. It is difficult to dispute the religious sentiment of the text which reads:

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name; thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.”

House of Commons Prayer

In 1927, the House of Commons formalized the practice of opening sessions with its own prayer. There have been some changes made to the wording over time. The current language was implemented in 1994 and is still being used today. The House of Common is independent from the country’s judicial branch and does not have to adhere to Supreme Court rulings, unless the representatives choose to do so. The House of Commons prayer is recited before the public is allowed in chambers and TV cameras turned on. It reads as follows:

“Almighty God, we give thanks for the great blessings which have been bestowed on Canada and its citizens, including the gifts of freedom, opportunity and peace that we enjoy. We pray for our Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth, and the Governor General. Guide us in our deliberations as Members of Parliament, and strengthen us in our awareness of our duties and responsibilities as Members. Grant us wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to preserve the blessings of this country for the benefit of all and to make good laws and wise decisions. Amen”

Generic Invocation

Another option is for municipalities to agree on a nonreligious “invocation.” One that has been proposed by Owen Sound, Ontario resident Terri Hope is:

“As we approach our work here today, may we be mindful of our role as leaders in Owen Sound, a city of great beauty and opportunity. As we face our decisions, may we be guided by strong ethics, wisdom, fairness and sound knowledge. May we never forget the trust placed in us by the people of Owen Sound.”

Observe a Moment of Silence

A number of city councils opted prior to the April 15 Supreme Court decision to have a moment of silence instead of a prayer. This alternative appears to be gaining steam after the ruling. Some municipalities have adopted the practice as an interim step while they consider the implications and alternatives to the recent ruling. Observing a moment of silence can allow time for personal, independent reflection, regardless of one’s religious beliefs.

Skip It Altogether

There are some municipalities that believe that the Canadian Supreme Court is the ultimate authority of these matters, and the affairs of church and state should be separate. They have chosen to eliminate prayers, and anything comparable, and get straight to the business at hand. Over time, it is possible forgoing a prayer, invocation or moment of silence will become standard practice.

The Supreme Court of Canada’s April 15 decision to ban prayers before city council meetings in Saguenay, Quebec, is bound to have a wide-ranging impact. It remains to be seen what the specific ramifications will be.

Saint-Jean Baptiste Day and the Summer Solstice

Lighting bonfires on Saint-Jean Baptiste day
Saint-Jean Baptiste Day, also known as La fete Nationale, is a public holiday in Quebec and occurs each year on June 24. It always falls around the same time as the summer solstice, or Midsummer, which has been celebrated since ancient times in France and other European countries including Sweden, Norway, Finland, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Pagan History

In Europe, Midsummer, also called Litha, traditions have been observed since pre-Christian times. The main focus of Litha celebrations have always been centered on the power of the sun, and were particularly important in agricultural societies. The holiday, which usually occurs on June 20 or June 21, is the day of the summer solstice and the longest of the year. The sun reaches the highest point in the sky, or its zenith. The word solstice is derived from the word solstitium, Latin for “sun stands still.” The lighting of bonfires, which stood for the lightness and warmth of the summer, was a common way to mark the occasion.

The ancient Romans honored Juno, for whom the month of June was named, during this time of year. She was the goddess of women, childbirth and marriage. June was (and still is) a popular month to be married.

Christian History

While the Midsummer holiday is pagan in origin, Christians associate it with the birth of John the Baptist. This prophet and saint predicted the arrival of Jesus Christ. John’s own birth was considered by Christians to be a miracle and has many parallels to Christ’s life. Zechariah and Elizabeth, John’s parents, were past childbearing years when he was born. The Archangel Gabriel came to Zechariah and told him that he and Elizabeth would have a son and they were to name him John. John’s birthday was six months before Christ’s, whom he would eventually baptize.

Canadian History

The first Saint-John the Baptiste Day celebration in Canada is believed to have occurred on the night June 23, 1636 on the St. Lawrence River. A group of French colonists are thought to have commemorated the occasion with cannon shots and a bonfire on the St. Lawrence River.

In the 19th century, the holiday rituals were mostly religious and backed by the Catholic Church. Bonfires, a tradition that dated back to pagan times, were lit and there were also parades. Pope Pius X declared St. John the Baptist the patron saint of French Canadians in 1908. June 24 officially became a public holiday in Quebec in 1924.


Saint-John the Baptiste Day celebrations became more secular in the 20th and 21st centuries. A bill was introduced in the Canadian Parliament in 2011 to make the day a federal holiday throughout Canada, but it has not been passed.


Modern Day Traditions

In modern times, Saint-John the Baptiste Day and the Midsummer are celebrated in a variety of ways.


Saint-John the Baptiste Day

The people of Quebec look forward to this public holiday every year. Some of the following ways they commemorate the day have historical origins and others are more contemporary in nature:

  • Bonfires
  • Parades
  • Musical performances
  • Art Exhibitions
  • Fireworks



Litha is one of the most important days of the year to pagans. Here a few of the ways people celebrate the occasion. Even for non-pagans, the holiday can still be a fun way to mark the summer solstice.

  • Take a hike and enjoy nature
  • Host a bonfire for family and friends
  • Build a Litha altar and decorate it with flowers, vegetables and lit candles
  • Learn and grow by reading a new book or taking a class such as yoga.


Saint-John the Baptiste Day and Litha are connected by thousands of years of tradition and rituals. The holidays honor one of the most important figures in Christian history and celebrate the sun and summer.

Religious Equality in Canada

Saquenay, Quebec, home of the Canadian Government's acceptance of religious equality.

The debate over religious equality has been a hot topic in Canada. While approximately 67 percent of the country’s citizens identify themselves as Christians, that still leaves a large part of the population to embrace other forms of spirituality (or claim no religious affiliation whatsoever). Issues such as employers providing time-off for non-Christian holidays and the legality of prayers before municipal meetings have both been issues.

Celebrating Non-Christian Holidays

Having time off to celebrate religious holidays is important to many people. The majority of Canadians receive paid days off for the following statutory holidays. Some are nationwide and a few are province specific.

  • New Year’s Day
  • Good Friday or Easter Monday
  • Victoria Day (except NB, NS, PE, NL)
  • Fete Nationale (Quebec only)
  • Canada Day
  • Labour Day
  • Thanksgiving (except NB, NS, PE, NL)
  • Christmas Day

While the majority of these dates are secular, two are religious (Easter and Christmas). Christians don’t have to request time off for these days because they are automatically included in the list of statutory holidays. People of different religions often need to ask for time off for their holy days since they are not usually recognized vacation days in Canada. In most situations, employers now have to accommodate the religious beliefs of eligible employees and grant them leave, if requested.

Legal Precedents

The Canadian courts require companies to allow employees who are not Christian time to celebrate their own holidays, as long it does not place any unreasonable burden on the employer. Federally regulated industries like banks, telecom companies and airlines must comply with this as well under the Canadian Human Rights Act. There a number of ways Canadian employers can accommodate these requests including switching work schedules and offering floating vacation days. There have been several milestone lawsuits that have reinforced this view.

  • Commission Scolaire Regionale de Chambly v. Bergevin

This case involved three Jewish teachers who requested time off for Yom Kippur, the most important holiday of the Jewish year. The leave had been approved by the school board, but without pay. The Canadian Supreme Court ultimately ruled the teachers should be paid for the time off, and doing so did not impose undue hardship on the school district.

  • Ontario Human Rights Commission and O’Malley vs. Simpson-Sears Ltd.

Theresa O’Malley, a Seventh Day Adventist, refused to work on Saturdays because it was the day her religion observed the Sabbath. She was subsequently fired from her job. The case made it to the Supreme Court of Canada and the justices unanimously ruled in favor of Ms. O’Malley, and ordered her employer to pay back wages.

Employers’ Undue Hardship

Employers do have a means of recourse. They can claim accommodating these requests places an undue hardship on their business or organization. However, it is relatively difficult to successfully argue these cases, because most Canadian companies routinely adjust work schedules based on holidays or sick days.

Prayers at City Council Meetings

In further support of the need to provide greater religious equality in Canada, the Canadian Supreme Court unanimously ruled on April 15 to ban reciting prayers prior to city council meetings in Saquenay, Quebec. The decision read, “The state must instead remain neutral in this regard. This neutrality requires that the state neither favour nor hinder any particular belief, and the same holds true for non-belief. It requires that the state abstain from taking any position and thus avoid adhering to a particular belief.” A number of other municipalities have already followed suit and done away with their pre-meeting prayers as well. It will take time to understand the full impact this ruling will have on religious equality in Canada.

Canada is considered one of the most religiously tolerant countries in the world. However, it has taken time and lawsuits for non-Christian Canadians to attain greater legal support for exercising their beliefs.



Why Hockey Is Like a Religion

For many, hockey is an unofficial religionHockey is an essential part of many Canadians’ lives. At a young age, children are frequently taught to skate and are introduced to the game. A love of the sport often continues throughout life. Some fans even choose to be buried in the jerseys of their favorite players. Hockey is in the hearts and souls of millions of Canadians and can be considered its own unique religion.

Sense of Community

One of the positive aspects of many religions is they build a sense of community among their followers. The same can be said of hockey. It is everywhere, from TV and the Internet to schools and frozen ponds. The sport is something the vast majority of Canadians have in common, even if they don’t support the same team. A love of the game also unites many citizens in the same way that religion can. It does not matter your age, where you live, or your language; hockey binds the country together like spiritual beliefs often can.

Star Players Are Revered Like Gods

To say some of the country’s star players are considered gods may actually be an understatement. Wayne Gretzky is probably the most famous hockey player in history and is nicknamed “The Great One,” which has a certain religious connotation. The team members of the 2002, 2010 and 2014 Olympic gold medal-winning hockey teams will go down in history as some of the most venerated Canadians of all time. Another highly exalted team is the 1993 Montreal Canadiens. Many of the top players in the NHL hail from the Great White North, but the 1993 Canadiens are the last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup.


Symbolism is integral to many religions, and hockey has its own examples. The Stanley Cup, which has been awarded to the NHL champion since 1893, is often called the Holy Grail. The actual Holy Grail is thought to be the cup Jesus drank from during the Last Supper (before he was crucified). Joseph is also believed to have collected Christ’s blood in it after he was crucified. Its whereabouts, and confirmation of whether it actually exists, are unknown. For centuries, the Holy Grail has probably been the most coveted Christian artifact of all time. Some Canadian hockey fans feel their team’s quest for the Stanley Cup is comparable to the search for the actual Holy Grail.

Hockey Arenas Are Cathedrals to the Faithful

For some hockey fans, their teams’ arenas are places of worship. Some of the stadiums are masterpieces of contemporary architecture and have every last amenity. A few of the country’s top hockey stadiums are:

  • Air Canada Centre – Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs haven’t had a lot of winning seasons, but they have very loyal fans, which can add even more excitement to the games. Opened in 1999, the arena has all the modern conveniences, including plenty of activities for kids and a wide variety of concession options.

  • Bell Centre – Montreal Canadiens

The Bell Centre is the home of the Montreal Canadiens, one of the most storied hockey franchises in the world. Some fans literally consider the arena to be a cathedral of hockey history because 24 Stanley Cup banners and countless retired numbers hang from the ceiling. It is also the largest arena in the National Hockey League and can hold over 21,000 people.

Hockey arenas can literally function as a cathedral at times; fans sometimes take their love of the sport a step further and opt to get married at their favorite arena. Referees have been known to perform the ceremonies and couples frequently incorporate team colors into their wedding attire, or even wear their favorite jerseys.

Hockey is part of the collective conscious of many Canadians, much like a shared religion can be.

The History of Mothers Day

Mother's Day

In Canada, Mother’s Day is always celebrated on the second Sunday in May. The holiday is a time to acknowledge and honor anyone who is a mother. People show their gratitude in numerous ways including giving cards and flowers, cooking special meals or by taking moms out to dinner. Many Canadian Mother’s Day traditions originated in the United States. Mother’s Day was made an official holiday in America in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson.

Ancient Times

The earliest Mother’s Day celebrations are attributed to the Ancient Greeks. They occurred in the spring and honored Rhea who was the Mother of the Gods. One of Saturn’s moons is also named for her.

17th Century

In 17th century England, there was a day reserved to honor the mother of Jesus Christ, Mary. It later evolved to include all mothers and became known as Mothering Sunday to Christians. Mothering Sunday was celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent, which is the 40 day period prior to Easter. English servants were often given the day off and so they could return home to visit their mothers. It was customary to bring a gift. Over time, as Christianity became more prevalent throughout Europe, the day also became a time to worship Mother Church. Christians of this era believed the Church gave them life and shielded them from harm. These more religious-centric celebrations faded over the years.

19th Century

Anne Marie Reeves Jarvis is credited with being one of the American inspirations for Mother’s Day as it is known today. She worked to improve sanitation for both the North and South during the Civil War and also promoted “Mothers Friendship Day” in an effort to help reconcile both sides after the Union army was victorious in 1865.

Julie Ward Howe was influenced by the work of Jarvis. Howe is probably best known for writing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” also called “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory.” Deeply impacted by the death and suffering caused by the Civil War and Franco Prussian War, Howe began a crusade for peace. She advocated for the concept of a “Mother’s Day of Peace,” which would be celebrated in early June. It was largely intended as way to get women united against war. Howe was never able to get Mother’s Day for Peace made into a formal holiday. However, in 1987, a stamp was issued in acknowledgement of her efforts.

20th Century

Anna Jarvis, daughter of Anne Marie Reeves Jarvis, was instrumental in getting Mother’s Day recognized as an official holiday in the early 20th century. She cared for her sick mother before she died and came to the conclusion people did not appreciate their mothers enough when they were alive. What began as a letter writing campaign to congressmen, ministers and businessmen resulted in the founding of the Mother’s Day International Association in 1912. Two years later, Woodrow Wilson signed a Presidential proclamation making the second Sunday in May Mother’s Day. It became customary to give mothers white carnations at churches on the holiday because they were a favorite flower of the elder Jarvis.

Mother’s Day Around the World

Mother’s Day is celebrated a wide variety of ways around the world.

  • Australia

Flowers are a favorite Mother’s Day gift in Australia with carnations at the top of the list. Chrysanthemums have become popular as well, and Australian mothers are called mums.

  • Brazil

Mother’s Day is a big holiday in Brazil; only Christmas is more commercialized. The day is often commemorated with children’s performances and large family gatherings.

  • France

Napoleon originally declared Mother’s Day (Fete des Meres) a holiday in France, but it wasn’t officially recognized until 1950. Mothers frequently receive gifts and enjoy a celebratory meal.

Mothers do countless things for their children, many of which are not truly appreciated until much later in life. Mother’s Day is a great time to say thank you.

Getting an Annulment in Canada

Traditionally, getting a marriage annulled has been considered tedious, bureaucratic and expensive. However, in Canada, church lawyers have been working to make the process more efficient.An annulment nullifies a marriage. This legal procedure is most closely linked with the Catholic Church, which believes that marriage is a commitment for life and does not sanction divorce. Traditionally, getting a marriage annulled has been considered tedious, bureaucratic and expensive. However, in Canada, church lawyers have been working to make the process more efficient. Payment for an annulment is typically voluntary, and the proceeding is not delayed if the parties do not provide compensation for the services rendered.


The Annulment Process

Either spouse can initiate annulment proceedings. In the eyes of the Catholic Church, all marriages are valid unless proven otherwise. Following are some conditions under which an annulment will be granted:


  • Bigamy

If either spouse was already married to someone else when the wedding took place, you are eligible for an annulment.


  • Incest

Marrying someone closely related to you such as a sibling, aunt or uncle is grounds for an annulment.


  • Fraud

If either party consented to wed the other based on a misrepresentation or falsehood, an annulment is an option that can be pursued.


  • Mental Issues

Mental illness and incapacity are also reasons for an annulment. Examples include one of the spouses being emotionally disturbed at the time of the wedding or being drunk or high on drugs.


  • Unconsummated Marriage

If either spouse was unable to have sexual intercourse after the wedding took place, there are also grounds for an annulment.


  • Underage Marriage

One of the spouses being too young to legally wed without parental consent is another reason an annulment can be granted.


Applicants typically submit the testimony of witness in order to validate their claims. One of the main reasons the process is believed to be so time consuming in Canada is the Vatican’s rule about appeals. Every annulment decision in the country is automatically sent to the national tribunal in Ottawa for review, even if there is no request for an appeal. There has been a proposal submitted to eliminate this step in the process.


Three Annulment Myths

Both parties have to agree on getting an annulment or it will not be granted. While each spouse has equal rights in the process, a judge can give an annulment even if one of them is adamantly opposed to the proceeding.


  • Myth: A Marriage Can’t Be Annulled if the Couple Has Children

Whether or not a couple has children has no bearing on annulment proceedings. Annulments also don’t have any impact on child custody and support arrangements.


  • Myth: If You Are Patient, You Will Eventually Be Granted an Annulment

There are absolutely individuals who apply for annulments and don’t get them. While the Catholic Church assists people in understanding the process and exact documentation needed to prove their case, there is definitely the chance the decision will be negative.


Does an Annulment Even Matter?

To very committed Catholics, getting an annulment will probably always be important if they feel the need to apply for one. However, while there is still work to be done to improve the efficiency of the annulment process, overall there are significantly fewer couples requesting annulments in Canada. This is largely due to changing attitudes about marriage. Fewer and fewer Catholic couples feel the need to get married in churches before priests these days. Many choose civil ceremonies or have destination weddings at resorts. If things don’t work out, the majority of couples don’t appear to be concerned with how the Catholic Church thinks they should dissolve their marriage and just proceed with a divorce.


While Canadian church lawyers continue to endeavor to make the process of getting an annulment in the country easier, fewer and fewer couples are even bothering to even apply.